While conversation comes easily to most people, for those with hearing loss it can be a frustrating, confusing and ultimately alienating experience.
For the person with hearing loss even those that wears hearing aids or cochlear implants, it is important that other participants in the conversation employ helpful communication strategies like the ones listed below. This will ensure that the person with hearing loss can understand and contribute to the conversation.
TIPS FOR COMMUNICATING WITH PEOPLE WITH HEARING LOSS
• Position yourself to accommodate the person with hearing loss. Face them directly, in good light and on the same level. If they hear better in one ear, place yourself on that side.
• Do not try to talk to the person from another room. Those who are hard of hearing often need to see the talker to better understand what is being said.
• Speak clearly, slowly and naturally. Enunciate your words!
• Do not shout or over-exaggerate facial expressions and mouth movements. This can seem to interpreted as rude or aggressive and will only lead to confusion.
• Keep your hands and other objects away from your face. Hands, food and chewing gum can make it harder to understand what you are saying.
• Be aware of background noise levels that lead to difficulty for the listener with hearing loss. If possible, conduct the conversation in a quiet area.
• Pay attention to the listener’s facial expressions. Do they look lost or puzzled? Are they just nodding or bluffing when they really are lost in the conversation?
• In a group conversation, take turns speaking. Talking over others if often confusing the listener.
• Get the listener’s attention before addressing them. This can be done with a wave or a polite touch on the arm.
• Remember to state the topic of conversation or when changing the topic so the listener can more easily fill in items misheard.
• Lastly, do not simply repeat yourself over and over again if the listener does not understand something. Try phrasing the sentence differently, or write it down if necessary.